Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO)
A 2007 survey by the ministry of Woman and Child Development showed that 53% of children in India had been sexually abused with their suffering increased by the lack of specific legislation to provide remedies for these crimes. While rape is considered a serious offence under the Indian Penal Code, the law was deficient in recognizing and punishing other sexual offences, such as sexual harassment, stalking, and child pornography, for which prosecutors had to rely on imprecise provisions such as “outraging the modesty of a Woman”. The Ministry of Women and Child Development, recognizing that the through less ambiguous and more stringent legal provisions, fought for the introduction of a specific law to address this offence.
The POCSO Act was therefore formulated in order to effectively deal with the heinous crimes of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. The Protection of President’s assent on 19th June 2012 and was notified in the Gazette of India on 20th June, 2012. The Act is due come into force shortly, along with the rules being framed under the Act.
Definition of Child: The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and well being of the child as being paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
Mandatory Reporting of the Offence: The Act also provides for mandatory reporting of arrangements for the safety and security of child. sexual offences. This casts a legal duty upon a person who has knowledge that child has been sexually abused to report the offences; if he fails to do so, he may be punished with six months’ Imprisonment and or a fine. Thus a Teacher who is aware that one of her students has been sexually abused by a colleague is legally obliged to bring the matter to attention of the authorities. The Act, on the other hand, also prescribes punishment for a person, if he provides false information with the intention to defame any persons including the child.
Role of Police: The act also casts the police in the role of child protectors during the investigative process. Thus ,the police personnel receiving a report of sexual abuse of a child are given the responsibility of making urgent arrangements for the care and protection of the child, such as obtaining emergency medical treatment for the child and placing the child in a shelter home, should the need arise. The police are also required to bring the matter to attention of the child Welfare Committee (CWC) within 24 hours of receiving the report, so the CWC may then proceed where required to make further arrangements for the safety and security of child.
Summery of POCSO 1.Salient features neutral. 2.It is makes the reporting of abuse mandatory. 3.It makes recording of sexual abuse mandatory. 4.It lists all known types of sexual offences towards minor’s. 5.It provides for the of minors during the judicial process.
Provisions of POCSO; -Police officers must bring every case to the attention of the child welfare Committee with 24 hours of receiving a report. -They must also be in plain clothes while recording the minor’s statement so as to not appear intimidating. -The statement must be recorded in a place chosen by the minor’s, in the presence of a person that he/she trusts. The medico-legal examinations for the collections of forensic evidence must be conducted only by a female doctor, in the presence of person that minor trusts. -Special court have been set up to conduct speedy, in-camera trials.